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August 24, 2013

By Ken Wagner

It’s always good to see someone get revenge on the racetrack as this week Matt Mitchell put away his memory of a loose oil line keeping him from a CRA win last week at Perris. He chased down early leader Danny Faria who held him off for 20 laps or so, surging to his second URA victory on the season. With 16 cars ready to rock and roll, only one less than the CRA total two weeks ago, it was a good show with everyone wanting on the top of the podium when the night was done.

For my pics from Santa Maria click here to view. For Doug Allens quality photo's Click here to see. For Steve Lafond's work Clcik here to view.

Matt was using a borrowed motor from often times crewmember, and car owner his own self, Dwight Cheney, and it never skipped a beat. Matt was hot on the famous little 1/3 mile track so many have loved to come race at and one the fans have come to experience great racing over so many years. My first trip there was back in the late 70’s and it still lights up my eyes to be there to watch the fun that Santa Maria provides everyone. As soon as he got into 2nd place, Matt was all over the leader lap after lap looking for the way around. When he saw his opportunity he took it going high when Danny went low for a the first time, and cashed in quickly by driving high up around him to grab the lead and put this one in the bank for his team. His smile on the podium lights up the place and our poster boy once again was smiling big as Steve Lafond took his winning shots after it was all done.

Austin Williams led the Williams family quartet this week as he was extremely aggressive and worked his way into second late in the race, but had to settle there as Matt wasn’t to be denied. Austin found a spot midway on the track to work under those he passed to get to the front with some heady driving and his never give up attitude. He made it close at the end.

Danny “Hollywood” Faria is a noted hard working “dairyman” in the Tulare area that races both 360 and 410 events. Unfortunately his 410 motor is under repair, so he was coerced into bringing the little motor, his ASCS legal 360, out to try his luck on the small track. It worked out very well as he ran second to Logan Williams twice, once in his heat and again in the special 8 car dash that finalized the starting main positions, and started on the front row of the 30 lap feature. Hollywood took the lead immediately on the restart of the feature, after the first start was called back, and looked very hard to pass running the middle of the corners until Matt got by. Danny is always a good show and made the podium for a great night for his team.

Cody Williams and his dad Ripper ran 4th and 5th as they both were on the gas looking for their own win. It’s always interesting to see the black car battles as nobody in this family gives an inch. Logan, the youngest brother at 17 had his first visit here in a sprint car a memorable one. He missed hot laps as the car didn’t fire, but qualified well and won his 8 car heat race running out front all 10 laps. He did the same thing in the special “dash”, again winning from the front and not challenged as he was smooth! He started on the front row of the main and ran strong until he mated with the back stretch wall, flipping hard enough to stop his night. He was still in the car ready to go with a flat tire when they decided not to fix it and he was done. A great outing for the youngster as he too wants to win like his dad and brothers in this racing thing, it’s a beautiful thing to watch. It’s no wonder Rip has a smile on his face these days.

The most interesting “incident” took place in the heats when young A J Bender got into the wall right where the flagman hangs out and looked to all like he was going for a ride! Not quite as he managed to gather it in and come back later to run the main. He missed the last race, after a nice family trip to Hawaii recently, because he had some new college responsibilities he had to take care of. Another young driver with schooling a major priority, but he’ll still race as often as the money is there and can keep up his studies. He and his dad are another example of a friendly hard working pair and welcome the pit help when it happens.

The feature had a couple of boo boo’s, but the most dramatic I missed. When the fast Moosemobile of David Cardey got upside down on the back stretch, I only saw where he landed right-side up, but he was done and climbed out unhurt. The URA point leader took a hit, but still leads the points, and Matt closed the gap a little.

It was good to see the Larry Henry owned, Tony Jones wrenched # 41 with Jake Swanson back out racing after a long pause. The newly painted car was pristine and the team could use a few sponsors to make this happen more often. The motor had just had a refresh, but they dropped a valve in the heats and Jake was done. Jake has been doing well in the midgets this year as he is second in points behind his friend Ronnie Gardner in the little cars.

Kenny Perkins luck lately has been all bad with flat tires and other stuff setting them back, but when he blew the motor pretty bad in his heat, he too was done for the night. Brody Roa had the family green machine going forward all night as he ran third in the dash and was doing the same in the main event when he had a front tire go down late in the race. His “family” crew got the tire changed and he got back in to finish 6th and all was good rolling it on the trailer after the race.

It was a 12 hour turnaround for me coming and going, but I had to get home to celebrate Terry’s famly retirement party at the house. So I was home by 4:30 AM and caught a few sleeps. I am about to take Mrs Wags on a rare trip for her to the annual Calistoga adventure. It is one of the highlights of the year as you have plenty of sprint and midget racing in two days plus wine tasting, a beautiful scenic playground for us and some stars from the past plus some other opportunities to get around the area and just have some fun. It’s going to be fun, so meet me there.

At my age I shouldn’t be surprised when bad news crosses my life, but this one really hurt. My friend Morty Mortland passed away last week. To me he was the best in the way he lived his life, worked as a fireman, was a great dad, and loved non-wing racing. He never missed finding me when I went back east to the Chili Bowl, Sprint Weeks in Indiana and many CRA/SCRA tour events. He was the first to get involved as he always helped our Wagsbucks programs on the road and always was there to see the racing. He was one of those who you always were glad to see because his eyes lit up as he shared his racing love and added to my days. He lived near St Louis and traveled a lot to see his racing. He retired from the Fire Department late last year and shortly thereafter was diagnosed with cancer. Rest in peace my friend, you will be missed!

Sorry I don’t have results yet, but will post when I get them! The next URA event is Oct 18 at Orange Show Stadium.

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